At the outset, I want to say that I have nothing but the utmost respect for our friends to the north. Life in a border city is amazing, and there are so many things I get to enjoy from Canada that most people don’t – Tim Horton’s, of course, a great rivalry with Toronto, and perhaps best of all, The Tragically Hip on regular radio rotation.
With that being said, I am compelled to beg Canada to stop. Please, for the love of everything that his holy, stop giving Don Cherry a forum for his rarely rational or relevant ranting.
Canada’s most famous blowhard is at it again, blowing hard. His NHL playing career is nearly as short as mine, so how he ever came to be considered an expert and a national treasure, I’ll never understand. But, here we are, and here he is…again.
In case you have been living under a rock, Team USA has been embarrassed in every pool play matchup in this year’s World Cup of Hockey. In their most recent gaffe the team lost 4-1 against Canada, who appear to be poised to go undefeated in the tournament and FINALLY take an NHL championship trophy back to the motherland.
The American team was damned from the start. Despite a few talented skaters peppering the roster, there were also too many plodding bodies – the type that take up space and try to hit big (missing more often than not) like Dustin Byfuglien did three times against Canada. There was also the curious addition of Erik Johnson, who was the least qualified of the seventeen players named Johnson in the NHL.
It was said that the team was put together like this in order to shut down Canada’s high-flying offense. In essence, they were to muck up the play, hope for a mistake and take home a 1-0 victory in front of 20,000 sleeping fans at the ACC.
Clearly, they failed in their mission. Passing over talent and skill for size and ‘grit’ (thanks, TJ Oshie) was a recipe for the disaster that the US team has turned out to be.
Enter Phil Kessel, who watched the steady dismantling of his countrymen from the comfort of his plush leather couch, probably. With his faithful canine companion by his side, Kessel munched Cheetos out of the Stanley Cup and laughed while Goliath played cat and mouse with David in one of the most tragic hockey games I’ve seen in a long time. And I watched most of The Tank. So...yeah. It was bad.
As the game came to an end, Kessel took to everyone’s favorite social media platform to take a dig at Dean Lombardi and John Tortorella, who had engineered this Frankenstein monster of a team.
“Just sitting around the house tonight w my dog. Felt like I should be doing something important, but couldn't put my finger on it.” Insert the maniacal laughter of millions of disappointed Americans, who realize what could have been but never will be.
Kessel’s tweet was important, for many reasons. First of all, he wasn’t saying anything the fans weren’t thinking. Secondly, things like this don’t happen enough. No one on the roster was willing to step to Tortorella during the tournament, when he ranted about politics. No one in hockey looked at Lombardi and said, “You’re kidding, right? This is your team? Dude…you’re going to get CRUSHED.” I could go on and on, but the point is made.
And then there’s Don Cherry. Canada’s most famous export is Cherry’s weekly rants from yesteryear, reminding us how it was in the good old days, when only white guys played hockey and everyone smoked on the bench. No helmets, just mustaches and blood and broken bones. Everyone respected everyone and they showed it by routinely hitting them in the spine and kidneys with compressed wooden sticks. If you had extra respect, you just punched them in the face.
After Kessel’s tweet, Cherry popped back from high above the action in Toronto. ““AH YA KNOW KESSEL WAS PLAYIN’ IT PERFECT AND THEN HE HAD TO GO AFTER THEY LOST AND SAY THOSE THINGS. I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT. AND NOW YOU KNOW WHY NOBODY WANTED HIM IN BOSTON. WHY HE DIDN’T MAKE THE THE ALL-STAR TEAM. AND WHY THEY GOT RID OF HIM IN TORONTO. YOU JUST DON’T DO THOSE THINGS WHEN GUYS ARE DOWN. I DON’T KNOW WHY KESSEL DID THAT. HE WAS PLAYING IT PERFECT.” Caps lock because that’s how Cherry speaks.
Who really got rid of who in Toronto, Don? That’s the best question, I think. Kessel was sick of the criticism and sick of the pressure on what was one of the worst teams in hockey, and do you know what happened when he left? THEY BECAME THE ACTUAL WORST TEAM IN HOCKEY. Laughable in their arrogance, Toronto will say that they were lucky to be rid of that Stanley Cup winning, playoff MVP contending slob. I bet as they sat around the locker room, high fiving while jerseys are tossed on the ice by fans, they were saying, “Hey, isn’t it great that Phil’s not here?”
Maybe. Maybe not. But I bet Kessel thinks he got the better end of that deal. And I do, too. Since I’ve only played one less NHL game than Don Cherry, I guess I’m an expert. Where’s my syndicated hockey segment?